Ann Ronald Papers

Identifier: 2008-02

Scope and Contents

The Ann Ronald Papers span the years 1839-2017; however, the bulk of the materials date from about 1970-2007 and reflect the teaching and writing career of Ann Ronald. Materials that date from earlier than the 1960s are primarily copies of the originals and were used as research and background materials for Ronald’s many books, articles, and essays.

These papers are a representation of the life and career of Ann Ronald as an English professor and administrator at UNR as well as a prominent writer and scholar in the fields of nature writing, landscape, and ecocriticism in the American West. Much of the material in this collections highlights the books of Ann Ronald and the research and writing process that went into creating a final product. This includes research and background in the form of travel guides, brochures, and visitor information as well as copious notes kept by Ronald from her travels to various locations in Nevada and the surrounding states. Additional book materials include manuscript drafts, contracts, promotional materials, and correspondence with editors and publishers for each of these works.

In additional to materials regarding the writing and publication of her books, there are also copies of all of Ronald’s other writings including articles, book forewords and introductions, and book reviews for numerous journals around the West. In some cases, it is just a copy of the piece, and in others, it includes correspondence regarding the logistics and process of creating the piece.

The materials in this collection offer considerable insights into the various facets of Ronald's personal and professional life beyond her publications, which includes teaching materials from her tenure in the Department of English at UNR. It also includes information on her continued involvement in the Western Literature Association, correspondence with friends, fellow writers, other scholars, editors, publishers, filmmakers, and others interested in topics involving the American West. Also included are Ronald's materials from her college and graduate school education including course materials, exam preparation, and her dissertation, which was later published as a book. There is additional research material in the form of articles, essays, news clips, notebooks, and notecards.

There are a small amount of audio/visual materials in this collection — all audio/visuals were physically kept together with related material in their respective series.

Series 1: Books and Related Research, is organized by ascending publication date and consists of manuscript drafts, correspondence with publishers, reader comments, research, promotional materials and event information, administrative logistics, and any articles or essays that preceded publication or were created later as an offshoot of the book. Every attempt was made to keep relevant research materials in their respective series, but it is possible that some research, especially visitor’s guides, maps, and brochures from notable locations around the West, specifically Glen Canyon, was used for multiple publications. This group is divided into eight series, each of which reflects one of Ann Ronald’s books, excluding Functions of Setting in the Novel, which is Ronald's dissertation that was published as a book in 1980. Copies of all of Ronald's books can be found in both the Special Collections and the general UNR Libraries catalogs.

Series 2: Articles, Book Reviews, and Other Writings, includes copies of and information on the process of writing and publishing Ann Ronald’s countless articles, essays, book reviews, introductions, book forewords, and other forms of writing. In addition to writing drafts, this series also contains pertinent research materials, which is why the date ranges begin so early. Many of the other folders in this group contain supplemental materials and information in addition to a copy or draft of the piece of writing.

Series 3: Western Literature Association, contains various materials that reflect Ann Ronald’s participation in and involvement with the WLA throughout her professional life. The WLA was founded in 1965 as a non-profit, scholarly association that promotes the study of the diverse literature and cultures of the North American West, past and present. In addition to annual meetings, the WLA has published scholarship and promoted the work of scholars in its journal, Western American Literature (WAL). Ronald served on the WLA Executive Board from 1978-1985 and was the Executive Secretary from 1989-1999. Materials include membership directories, papers, essays, meeting minutes from the Executive Committee and Board of Governors, conference planning materials, correspondence with other members, memoranda, conference programs, and various other administrative information.

Series 4, Personal and Professional, acts as a catchall for all other materials in this collection that did not necessarily fit into the other series. This series consists of a variety of materials including general correspondence with editors and publishers at various journals regarding ongoing or potential projects, friends, and colleagues. Any correspondence that does not explicitly pertain to any of the other specific series in this collection can be found in this series. Also included is information on literary panels and programs in which Ann Ronald participated, materials from her years in college and graduate school in the 1960s and early 1970s, teaching resources including syllabi and instruction as well as University-related honors, and finally general research including bibliographic notecards and notebooks including travel notes and ideas.


  • 1839-2017
  • Majority of material found within 1970-2008


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Personnel materials to be restricted until donor's death.

Biographical Note

Ann Ronald was born in 1939. She grew up in Seattle and graduated from Roosevelt High School. In 1961, she earned a B.A. from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. Following a brief stint teaching high school, Ronald earned her M.A. in English from the University of Colorado in 1966 and a Ph.D. in Victorian literature from Northwestern University in 1970.

After graduate school, Ronald ventured to northern Nevada to take an assistant professorship position in the Department of English at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), becoming a full professor in 1982. For nearly four decades at UNR, Ronald taught British and American literature and nature writing. Ronald also held several administrative positions while at UNR including Chair of the English Department, acting Dean of the Graduate School, and Dean of the College of Arts and Science.

Ronald published her first book in 1975, an analysis of American novelist Zane Grey. Seven years later, she published the seminal book on Edward Abbey. With the publication of The New West of Edward Abbey, the first book-length study of the iconic and iconoclastic writer of the Southwestern desert, Ronald established herself as a major scholar in the fields of environmental and Western American literature. Then Ronald gradually turned attention to her own narrative essays about the American West.

In 1989, Ronald published the essay “Why Don’t They Write about Nevada?” in Western American Literature. According to fellow nature writer and former colleague, Scott Slovic, Ronald responded to her own facetious question by suggesting that Nevada does not exhibit a typical natural beauty, which is why writers had traditionally ignored it. Ronald decided to fill the void. Today, Nevada writing has blossomed, with dozens of essayists, novelists and poets.

In 1995, Ronald teamed up with Utah writer and photographer, Stephen Trimble, to produce Earthtones, a combination of Trimble’s color photographs coupled with Ronald’s verse on the beauty of Nevada’s diverse landscapes. They showcase the underappreciated, and often undiscovered, portions of the Great Basin — a theme and strategy that runs through much of Ronald’s writing.

Following Earthtones, Ronald expanded her scope as a literary essayist beyond the boundaries of Nevada landscape and published GhostWest: Reflections Past and Present in 2002 and Oh, Give me a Home: Western Contemplations in 2006. Contemporaneously, Ronald also published a collection of her scholarly essays, including a reprint of "Why Don't They Write about Nevada?" in Reader of the Purple Sage in 2003.

In 2010, Ronald returned to writing about the Great Basin when she published her acclaimed book, Friendly Fallout 1953 — a combination of fact and fiction that recounts stories of men, women, and children who participated in, and were affected by, Nevada’s above-ground atomic testing in the 1950s.

From her decades of important work in the classroom and as an influential scholar in the fields of ecocriticism and nature writing, Ronald received many awards and accolades. In 1999, she received the Western Literature Association’s (WLA) Wylder Award for Distinguished Service. Additionally, she was named a UNR Foundation Professor in 2001 and earned the University's Outstanding Researcher Award in 2005. In 2006, Ronald was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. When she retired, she received the 2008 Distinguished Faculty Award, earning another spot in UNR’s Honor Court for her contributions in scholarship, teaching, and outreach.

Ann Ronald has contributed greatly to the University, the state of Nevada, and the region through her sizeable body of work and her mentoring of others.


20.5 Linear Feet (34 boxes, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



The Ann Ronald Papers contain materials that cover Ronald's tenure as a professor and administrator at the University of Nevada, Reno as well as her role as a leading scholar and author in the fields of nature writing and ecocriticism. A lifelong member of the Western Literature Association, many of Ronald's books, articles, and essays describe the places and landscapes of the American West, especially Nevada. Materials include book manuscript drafts, research notes, promotional items, correspondence, certificates and awards, conference information and planning, articles, book reviews both by Ronald and about her work, visitor's guides, and pamphlets from locations around the West.


Arranged into the following series: 1) Books and Related Research; 2) Articles, Books Reviews, and Other Writings; 3) Western Literature Association; 4) Personal and Professional

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Ann Ronald between 2007 and 2017.

Related Materials

Related archival materials held by the UNR Special Collections Department:

The Tonopah ladies (NC 1090)

Delbert E. Wylder Correspondence (94-31)

Separated Materials

Photographs transferred to the Special Collections Photo Archives as collection number UNRS-P2018-04.

  • Approximately 43 books and 3 DVDs consisting of two cubic feet of books were removed from the collection, some were donated to surplus and others were added to the Special Collections, University Archives, and general libary catalogs


Guide to the Ann Ronald Papers
Edan Strekal
March 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)